Wojtek sent me a message, saying we should meet in front of the Adam Mickiewicz monument on the main square in Krakow's Old Town.
That’s an easy five minute walk for me. I readily agreed.
It was my day off from volunteering for Ukrainian refugees and I was eager to fill it with equal parts adventure and naps.
My Covid left a residue of exhaustion.
No problem. I can nap on command, then get out to find a little fun.
I arrived at the statue a few minutes early and noted that it was the busiest part of the square. How was I going to find a stranger?
I sent him a photo of myself on WhatsApp with a note saying I was right in front of the statue.
Within seconds I received a photo of him. He was also right in front of the statue.
So were hundreds of other people.
Ok, I studied his photograph. He had on glasses and was wearing a blue shirt in his photograph.
I found him first.
“I realized this was a terrible place to meet.” He said.
I laughed. “How did you send me a photo so fast?”
“We sent them at the same time. We thought the same things.”
We hugged hello.
When you meet a very good friend of a very good friend, you are already friends by association.
My friend Adam who lives in Boulder, Colorado traveled through Poland a few years ago and met Wojtec and his son and kept in touch.
I told Adam I was meeting cool volunteers from all over the world, but very few people from Poland. Since I’m in Krakow, I wanted to meet more people who live here. Adam connected us.
We walked out of the square and as if we'd known each other for many years.
“I have a house on a creek.” I said.
“What is a creek?”
“Like a small river.”
He said, “I am a chemist for a company that makes bio-additives for petroleum.”
I had so many questions, which really pushed his English skills. I learned about esters and spread sheets and the international market for petroleum.
He grew up in this city and knows it well. We walked along the Vistula River and compared Covid stories.
That’s how it is in the international crowd. You can ask about travel. You can ask about college. You can ask about Covid.
Early today I met two people through a Facebook group run by my friends Amy and Tim: Go With Less. People who travel full time are drawn to the site and their YouTube channel: and I drool over their photos and videos and adventures from my upstate, New York house.
Members of the group meet up around the world.
This was my first time meeting people abroad.
Warren and Julie are Americans who travel full time with their dogs Katie and Arya. Their dogs have been to almost as many countries as I have.
I swear I could hear my Boston Terrier, Coco whine from my mother’s fenced-in back yard back and asked why she wasn’t invited on the dog walk.
Maybe one day, Coco. Maybe one day you will see Europe.
Julie and Warren are in Krakow for the next few months, so there will be plenty of time for me to get my dog fix and ask questions about retirement that includes living full time in Airbnb apartments around the world.
Full time travel.
I have never stayed in one place during travel. Normally I move around every three days, but here in Krakow I’ve settled into my apartment and am having such a good time getting to know the city.
Now I can get to and from volunteering and to and from the grocery store without my GPS.
And I can meet my volunteer team for dinner and sort of know how to get there. And back home to my apartment.
I love learning a new city.
Warren, Julie and I met for ice cream, then wandered through the streets of Krakow towards the castle. I asked Warren to navigate because navigation is a full time job for me, even when I’m wide awake.
We walked and talked and told travel tales.
When were you in Montenegro? Wait, you went to Vietnam? How did you get your dogs into Europe? Where did you go in Turkey?
You have to be careful sharing secrets when walking together since Warren stops to take videos for their YouTube channel: Travel with Us by Warren and Julie.
So Julie and I lagged behind him and whispered secrets while he recorded.
We happened upon a Polish Kitchen Festival in Kazimierz under tents in an abandoned parking lot.
That’s my favorite part of travel, when you happen upon a Polish Kitchen Festival.
There was dancing to accordion music and the singing of songs that everyone sang from the heart and many home baked foods for sale. I couldn’t try any, being Celiac is a drag when traveling, but my new friends got a box of baked goods that looked delicious.
It was hard to end our day, but a fast friendship had started; we would get together again.
They headed to the castle to have a look around, I headed home for a nap before my day continued.
Thanks for reading.
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